The seminars could be divided up into any number of educational components. Here are fifteen potential topics and two suggestions for forums. Each seminar need not include every topic; components could vary from year to year.
History Component: Presentations on the history of Gay Rights activism in the Western world, and discussion of what direction our activism should take in the future.
Science Component: Exploration of current scientific research into findings about the nature of LGBT identity. Presentation of evidence refuting the notions that gender is binary and that human beings can choose their sexual orientation.
International Component: Presentations on the repression LGBT people suffer outside the USA, and discussion of how to best combat injustice in non-Western countries and cultures.
Legal Component: Discussion of legal issues pertinent to LGBT folk. Identification of areas where class action lawsuits might be useful. Resource linkage.
Physical Health Component: Identification and discussion of physical health needs specific to Lesbians, Gay men, Pansexual and Transsexual persons. Resource linkage. Could be split into gender-based subcomponents.
Psychological Health Component: Identification of mental health needs specific to Lesbians, Gay men, Pansexual and Transsexual persons, with special emphasis on traumatization and internalized shame. Discussion of how and why LGBT folk internalize shame. Targeting of shame-based behavior. Resource linkage.
Youth Component: Identification and discussion of concerns specific to LGBT children and teenagers, with special emphasis on hostile school environments. Resource linkage.
Senior component: Identification and discussion of concerns specific to LGBT elders, with special emphasis on social networks, health issues and retirement options. Resource linkage.
Marriage Component: Presentations on the planning and execution of Lesbian and Gay weddings, Holy Unions and civil unions, and discussion of issues pertinent to married couples. Discussion about the dynamics of long-term same-gender partnerships. Resource linkage.
Parenting Component: Identification and discussion of concerns specific to Lesbian and Gay parents.
Religious Component: Identification and discussion of specific challenges facing Gay Christians, Muslims, Jews and others, and how best to respond to them. Facilitation of direct action tactics. Deconstruction of Right Wing theology.
Integrity Component: Debate about the wisdom or folly of maintaining the collective closet from an activist point of view. Discussions may involve identification of closeted LGBT individuals in positions of power and influence!
Political Component: A vehicle for communication between Gay leadership and grass roots activists. Identification of local and national social justice priorities. Discussion of strategies for pursuing them. Faciliation of direct action tactics. Resource linkage.
Media Component: Identification of anti-Gay propaganda sources in local and national media. Discussion of strategies for combating them. Facilitation of direct action tactics. Would include a mandate to revive the Fairness Doctrine in Federal Communications law, which would require broadcasters to give us equal on-air time with our demonizers!
Military Component: Identification of needs and concerns specific to LGBT veterans and enlisted personnel. Discussion of strategies for stopping unjust discharges and abolishing the US military's "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" policy. Resource linkage. Long overdue honors ceremonies for Gay veterans!
Since people do get hungry at events like this, the seminars would need to take a mid-day break for food and (non-alcoholic!) refreshments, hopefully provided by LGBT caterers. Music should be a part of the seminars, too, but not the stuff we hear on the radio and in dance clubs. One of the educational forums would feature presentations by Lesbian and Gay musicians. Have you ever heard of Ari Gold? How about Jason and DeMarco? Mark Weigle? Nedra Johnson? Chely Wright? Surely you know who Lesley Gore is?
There are a lot of openly LesBiGay singer/songwriters now, many of whom perform material with same-gender loving lyrics. They play and sing every commercial genre: Folk/World Music, Broadway, Rock, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Disco/Dance, Latin Pop, Classical, Country, Electronica, even religious music! It's not just about "women's music" anymore. However, since mainstream labels rarely sign or promote these artists, they have a tough time getting heard. Pride celebrations could finally become the venues for them they always should've been!
Finally, there should be a forum that's open to hatemongers. No, I haven't lost my friggin' mind! Bigots will surely try to infiltrate events like this anyway, so why not anticipate them? Why not provide an outlet for them that we control? Choose a Gay-related topic for debate, invite a group of religious Right Wingers, and put them on a panel with a group of Gay-affirming clergy. Have someone serve as moderator who won't tolerate factual distortion, ad hominem attacks or deviation from the topic.
That's not enough, though! The organizers of this forum need to make sure the Progressive debaters come prepared to do battle! Too many times, I've seen would-be Gay advocates crash and burn in confrontations with reactionary preachers. They underestimate the verbal prowess of their opponents and overestimate their own! They bring no talking points, have no debate strategy, and are easily led astray by irrelevant rhetoric.
Some even have poor knowledge of Scripture! Others are apologists for every harsh passage found in the Bible. Still others are more concerned with reconciling doctrinal adversaries than condemning religious bigotry. Screen out these tenderfoot types! Kick their asses to the curb! Let them stammer and back-pedal in some other forum. Give the spectators a war of words where the two sides are at least equally matched. Then, prepare to be amazed as you watch credibility return to these kinds of exchanges!
"Whatever Happened To Mary Tyler Moore"
concludes with Part Four.
concludes with Part Four.